Call for improved ICT infrastructure  

ZIMBABWE’S hard-pressed industries have urged the government and other stakeholders in the information and communication technology sector to set up reliable infrastructure required for the country to boost economic growth.
This comes as low levels of technology adoption in the country are limiting the potential for digital solutions in enhancing sustainable development.
Henry Ruzvidzo, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president, said the coronavirus pandemic has increased the need for businesses to use technology to improve efficiency, but Zimbabwe was still lagging behind.
“We are yet to fully roll out 4G — the fourth generation of broadband cellular network technology – yet other countries are already rolling out 5G. The world is moving fast and we need to catch up,” he said.
Ruzvidzo added that the country’s economy risked stagnation should most of the workers be grounded by the deadly coronavirus.
“Transportation is a major challenge at the moment as most workers are using public transport where social distancing is compromised, while product handling is also affected by lack of proper ICT infrastructure,” he said.
Nicholas Muzhuzha, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) head of technical services, said lack of capital was hindering the country from moving with the times in terms of technology.
“We have reasonable internet connectivity, but we are still rolling out 4G and its percentage coverage at the moment is very insignificant,” he said.
There is concern in business circles that investors will continue to shun Zimbabwe and opt for neighbouring countries like South Africa and Botswana because of their investor friendly laws.
Market experts believe that investment in ICT infrastructure, such as broadband rollout, is a vital step to promote economic development and social integration. For instance, high-speed Internet access — as provided by 5G — is necessary to maximise effective use of ICT, which in turn is an explicit driver of productivity, innovation, and social inclusion.
Economic commentator Francis Mukora said in order to realise the full potential of ICTs in enhancing sustainable development in Zimbabwe, there was need to strengthen the country’s policy and regulatory environment require significant to address the current inadequate regulatory capacity and promote growth of the sector.
“An enabling policy environment is required for the ICT sector, including coherent national plans that integrate technology-based development. Strengthening of the policy and regulatory environment remains key imperators in promoting higher technology investment and diffusion levels, which are the preconditions for enhancing the impact of the new ICTs on sustainable development and help close the digital gap between Zimbabwe and the advanced economies,” he said.
Loice Ngulube, an information technology executive with POSB, said Zimbabwe should learn from other countries who are using technology to grow various industries during the covid-19 era.

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